An environmentally friendly gin distillery could use hydrogen power to produce sustainable gin is part of a £390 million (≈ EUR 432 million) UK government investment to reduce emissions from industry. The HySpirits project will explore the possibility of converting a craft gin distillery in Orkney in Scotland from using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) – currently used in gas barbecues and outdoor heaters – to hydrogen to make the process more environmentally friendly.
Working with the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) plant – which uses wind and tidal technology to produce hydrogen – the HySpirits project would use this locally-produced ‘green’ hydrogen to supply zero-carbon heat for the gin distillation process.
If successful, this would reduce emissions from the plant by around 86 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) every year and show how the UK’s growing craft brewing industry can switch from using fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives.
Another pilot project announced by the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to receive funding aims to use floating wind turbines to produce hydrogen. The Dolphyn project will mount electrolysers onto platforms to produce hydrogen.
It’s great to know we can all enjoy an environmentally friendly tipple while helping our planet as we press towards a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. Developing hydrogen technology has the potential to not only reduce emissions from industry but could also help us seize the opportunities of the global shift to cleaner economies – with the prize of up 2 million jobs and £170 billion of annual exports by 2030, said Climate Change Minister Lord Duncan.
Hydrogen and Fuel Switching Innovation Fund
According to BEIS, energy-intensive industries currently produce approximately 24 percent of global emissions and account for around 10 percent of emissions in the UK. Low carbon hydrogen could play an important role in decarbonising heavy industries including cement and glass as well as power, heat, and transportation.
To reach this goal, beyond 2030, the switch to low carbon fuels will need to substantially increase in scale, and hydrogen could be used to power factories, vehicles, and heat homes.
HySpirits and the Dolphyn projects are two out of 20 companies that have secured a share of up to £40 million (≈ EUR 44.3 million) of government funding to explore how the use of hydrogen can be rolled out across the UK – a crucial step towards the end of the UK’s contribution to global warming.
Out of these, a further 7 projects have been selected to develop their concepts covering a range of sectors including steel, food and drinks, nickel, cement, and glass. The best of these will be awarded up to £7.5 million (≈ EUR 8.3 million) to move their technologies towards commercialisation.
Part of a major funding programme
The funding programme for the HySpirits and Dolphyn pilot projects are in turn part of a larger £390 million (≈ EUR 432 million) UK government funding package announced by BEIS on August 29, 2019, to help industry cut emissions. This includes a:
- £20 million (≈ EUR 22.15 million) Hydrogen Supply Programme and £20 million (≈ EUR 22.15 million) Industry Fuel Switching competition to explore how the technology can be rolled out across the UK to help cut emissions;
- £100 million (≈ EUR 110.8 million) competition to enable greater supply of low carbon hydrogen for use across the economy to help businesses decarbonise;
- £250 million (≈ EUR 276.9 million) Clean Steel Fund to support the iron and steel industry, which currently accounts for 15 percent of industry emissions, to transition to a low carbon future, including using hydrogen.
According to BEIS, moving to a cleaner, greener economy could help the UK seize the benefits of clean growth, with the potential of 2 million jobs and £170 billion (≈ EUR 187.9 billion) of annual exports by 2030, which hydrogen could be a part of.
The government’s Clean Growth Strategy similarly highlights the need for industry to begin to switch from fossil fuel use to low carbon fuels such as biomass, hydrogen, and clean electricity.
The announced funding places the UK at the forefront of this clean-tech roll-out to meet the challenge of scaling up hydrogen production for use in fuel cells and electrolysis, the automotive and rail sectors, as well as boiler manufacturers.